*Washington won 26 games and a conference championship last year. The lost of two key players will prevent a repeat of that, but the return of Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt and Quintin Poindexter as a swingman will make them a tough out.
*Arizona State contended for the league title a year ago, but the losses of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph will push them back the bubble. But the other three starters are back, and Herb Sendek has always produced teams that battled, be it here or at N.C. State. In a year where the Pac-10 won’t be as strong as in recent years, the Sun Devils can get in the top four and make the Dance again.
*Arizona’s one of the more intriguing teams. They have a backcourt intact and a new coach in Sean Miller, who’s in from Xavier. Miller won consistently there, and the winning should be easier in Tucson. This team can go either way this year.
*USC hired Kevin O’Neill to rebuild the program after the recruiting violations of the Tim Floyd era. Count me among the skeptics who think USC A.D. Mike Garrett came down hard on the basketball program to distract attention from potentially more problems being found in the football program. O’Neill’s a great recruiter, but a so-so coach. He doesn’t have the talent this year, so that spells trouble in Troy.
*Washington State and Stanford were competitive last year, but also suffered losses too big to sustain.
For November action, Cal is the team to watch early when they go to New York for Coaches vs. Cancer on Thursday. During the holiday week, Arizona will be in Maui for the early part of the week, with UCLA in Orlando for the Old Spice from Friday to Sunday.